Labour MP Phil Goff is under fire for a "misogynistic" barb directed at Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.
During a parliamentary debate on new spying laws yesterday, the pair traded insults about election defeats.
Goff mocked Finlayson for being "beaten on three occasions, each time by a woman".
"I've won 11 times and I've lost once, but the member in the chair [Finlayson] has lost three times," he said.
"You would think that would be a humbling experience, but the arrogance of the minister shows no sign at all that he's learnt from being beaten on three occasion, each time by a woman member of Parliament."
Finlayson ran against Annette King in the Rongotai electorate in 2008 and 2011. In 2005, he lost to former Labour MP Winnie Laban in Mana.
The insult created a social media stir, with tweeters branding Goff misogynistic.
Megan Hands asked: "Why does @phil_goff have such 1950s views?"
Shaun Willis tweeted: "Neanderthal man is very much alive within the Labour party."
Kate Sutton tweeted that the Mt Roskill MP's remarks were "bad form".
"Its that kind of sexism the Labour Party doenst [sic] need," she said.
Finlayson joined the online fray, writing: "Imagine!"
Justice Minister Judith Collins tweeted: "Says a lot about why his colleagues wanted the manban. #sexist&stupid." Goff said the storm was "utter crap" and he was only being accurate.
"It was just a statement of fact. I could have said 'beaten by a Labour MP on three occasions'. I didn't really think about it," he said.
"Nobody in the House took offence at it, least of all my female colleagues. So this is a beat-up ... I think it's drawing a long bow.
"I've been a member of Parliament for 30 years and I've never been accused of being a misogynist."
Labour attracted criticism last month for backing away from a proposed "man ban".
Leader David Shearer asked the party's council to drop a controversial plan that would have allowed some electorates to block men from seeking selection.
A target to ensure 50 per cent of the caucus is female after 2017 remains in place.
Labour MP Shane Jones had said "the public doesn't want the country run by geldings".
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